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COVID-19 concern: OBU to continue with fully online learning for rest of Spring 2020 semester

Staff Writer
The Shawnee News-Star

Oklahoma Baptist University announced Friday, March 20, that all courses will be delivered in an online format for the remainder of the spring 2020 semester.

The announcement was made through the following statement from OBU President Dr. Heath A. Thomas:

“I pray this email finds you well amid the challenges we all face. As I have stated before, these days remain unprecedented in so many ways. Still, our hope is in the Lord. Thanks to the countless numbers of students and employees who have reached out to me directly as I have sought the best course of action for OBU in the days ahead. At this time, I believe it is in the best interest of OBU to move to fully ONLINE for the remainder of the semester.

Arriving at this decision was neither rash nor easy. I love what we do at OBU, as do you. But I believe it is in the interest of our entire community to move to fully ONLINE for the remainder of the spring semester. This action adheres to national and state guidelines for action in light of the COVID-19 pandemic, protects our students and campus community, and positions us to continue our quality instruction at OBU.

The outcomes of this decision are as follows:

• Classes are fully ONLINE beginning March 23 through the end of the semester.

• Campus Housing is closed except for extreme hardship cases and married students.

Students and employees will be receiving an email from OBU later today providing specifics on housing and food service options for those who need to stay on campus for extreme hardship.

Additionally, students will receive an email from Residential Life about procedures regarding procuring belongings from residence halls and apartments.

• OBU will be providing relief for students for room and board. Details will be coming next week.

• We will continue to monitor the situation and will make a decision concerning Spring Commencement at a later date.

• The OBU campus is not closing. We are directing individuals who can work from home, to work from home to reduce the number of people on campus in accordance with CDC guidelines. Essential personnel will work from the OBU campus and other personnel will work remotely as necessary. Supervisors are working with the President’s Council to identify positions/employees in their specific areas who can work remotely from home and are making arrangements for them to do so. Working remotely from home is a temporary measure during this time of national emergency.

None of these moves are what we want. I understand that. We have worked diligently to find the best course of action for our entire community, and it has led us to this moment. As always, trust in Jesus. Stay safe. We will be praying for OBU’s safety, direction, caution, and calm in the days ahead. This has been my prayer early in the morning, the middle of the night, and late at night for the past few weeks. I ask you to join me in prayer for our community and our country.”

The University had previously announced that the first two weeks following spring break, March 23-April 3, would be taught online, and students prepared by taking home all needed materials for doing so when they left for the University’s previously scheduled spring break, which began March 13.

For more information about OBU’s response to the coronavirus outbreak, visitwww.okbu.edu/coronavirus .